Egg Lemon is Jude Millis, the DIY garment designer making the cutest/coolest upcycled fashion — think teddy bears and tie-dye with a graffiti can in hand. Scouring Melbourne op-shops, Jude trawls through dusty clothing racks in search of the next big thing, maintaining the ethos that, “There’s enough clothing on the planet for all of us.” With a keen eye for trend forecasting (not to mention photography and styling) Egg Lemon has been doing elfin lewks, tie-dye tees and bejewelled baseball caps before you even knew it was cool.
Also known for her signature charm bracelet tats, cheeky line-drawn elves and squiggly butterflies, Jude co-runs SSF Studio: a safe place for all bodies to buy art, garments and, ofc, get inked. Over the web, Jude tells me how her multi-disciplinary practice is affirmed by IRL and online communities made up of supportive DIY, queer, sober artists — and fills me in on her creative process, fashion icons and meaningful collabs.
Hey Jude, I’m Anjelica! It’s 11:42 pm in Birranga (Melbourne) rn, so I’ll say g00d evening…
Good evening 🌸💜🌸
Firstly, what pronouns do you use?
When did you start making clothes?
Last year I was making spatial garments as part of my interior design degree. I was using all recycled materials for that. After I finished, I continued making garments but focusing more on making stuff that’s wearable or altering existing garments to give them new life.
Have you always been into fa$hion?
I’ve always been interested in fashion, especially DIY and outsider fashion. I’ve rarely had the funds to buy any fancy pieces that I like, so I search for interesting things second hand. I love to find things that excite new ideas or the trashy/budget version of high-end trends. I love how people can express themselves through what they wear.
I recently read an article by Alec Leach (AKA @future__dust) about using the word ‘sustainability’ when it comes to fashion; it’s a buzzword with no concrete meaning, often used as a guise to create more products and waste… You make clothes out of recycled goods, so I’m wondering what’s your stance?
I think the commodification of sustainability is dangerous, because it can fool buyers into thinking they’re making sustainable decisions — especially when there’s no transparency as to the production of the garments. There is enough clothing on the planet for all of us to reuse and upcycle existing materials!
I hope it’s not cringe when I say I love your DIY aesthetic — taking two different t-shirts and sewing them together, spraypainting text and stencils onto garments, frayed ends and mix-matched materials — what’s your creative process like? What techniques are you drawn to?
It’s not cringe, it’s sweet!! 💖My creative process starts at the op shop — I usually have an idea of what I’m looking for, but also just try to and grab whatever I think would make a good base or could be altered in a certain way. I like things with motifs that I can cut out and use. Then I take it all back to my studio, play around with ideas and cut things up, airbrush them, paint them, make patches until I’m happy with it. Or I’ve overdone it and have to wind it back.
You always seem to know what’s up when it comes to trends: tie-dye tees, graffitied and bejewelled baseball caps, elfin looks. How much (if at all) do you consider fashion/beauty trends when making a collection?
I’m definitely subconsciously influenced by what I see around me and online. But, because a lot of what I make is dictated by what resources I have at the time, or what I’m able to get my hands on, that’s ultimately what determines my process, aesthetic and outcome.
Who are your fashion icons or inspiration?
They are sick 😱. Besides clothes, you also make music – can you tell me about your alternative/RnB partnership: Pillow Pro?
Pillow Pro is me and Christobel Elliott, and we started making music together about four or five years ago. Our sound and vision have really evolved over the years and now our debut album is being mixed and mastered, and will be ready for release next year! We’ve worked so hard to produce a whole album and manage everything that comes with it. It’s been a huge part of our friendship and means a lot to us both — I’m excited to share it.
Our costumes and visual output is a big part of the band too. Doing Pillow Pro has definitely sparked my interest in creating a cohesive aesthetic across my practices.
And besides music, you also ink tattoos — what lead you into the tattoo world?
To be honest, tattooing just came to me at the right time and place, through friends. I started stick-n-poking little drawings on my friends for fun, until I gained the confidence to take it seriously. It also coincided with me getting sober, so it was a great thing to focus on while I was navigating a new way of life and socialising.
You co-created SSF Studio, a safe space studio for all bodies. What was the impetus for this? And what does the space provide?
My friend Raphaela (@raphaela_tatt) and I started the studio initially for ourselves to have a safe and comfortable work environment. We both have strongly aligned values and ideas about what the tattoo experience should offer. The main things being mutual respect, a loving environment, and a space for the client to feel totally safe and happy with their decisions and experience. Raphaela also gave me some of her first stick-n-pokes and she’s a big part of how I got into tattooing.
What does making art do for you?
It allows me to connect with others. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, and it makes me feel like I’m being true to myself. I’m lucky to have found tattooing and garment making, as they have connected me to beautiful online communities of supportive DIY, queer, sober artists.
What has it helped you overcome?
Connecting with people through my practice has been so important to me — it’s helped me overcome what felt like a lack of purpose and understanding of myself. I’ve found a community of artists around the world that I can relate to and grow with. Being able to provide a tattoo service that’s safe and positive makes me feel connected to people regularly. That sense that my practice can be a positive experience for others has been so important to me. Similarly, with music or my garments – seeing people enjoying a Pillow Pro show or, feeling good in a garment I’ve made is such a privilege.
Finally – what are you working on at the moment? And what are you doing in NYC?
I’m going to NYC to hang out and do some tattoos at my friend Tabi’s private studio. They have created a great space to host travelling artists with their partner Dom. They’re both super talented artists, you can check out their tattoos at @baitkush and @yourbodyforever. They’ve been super supportive of me and I’m so grateful for spaces like these. When I go back to Melbourne in December, I’m excited to work on a new collection and continue tattooing my Melbourne eggs 💜.
Images: Egg Lemon and @rosepure